The 2019 Los Angeles Dodgers set a franchise record with 106 wins, hit the most home runs by any National League team, had an MVP candidate in Cody Bellinger and Cy Young Award favorite for much of the season in Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Yet, they will take the field Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium for Game 5 of the NL Division Series facing the possibility of their season coming to an abrupt end with an unceremonious first round exit in the postseason.
The Dodgers are playing in a Game 5 of the NLDS for the first time since doing so against the Washington Nationals in 2016. L.A. closed that series out on the road. Their last time hosting an NLDS Game 5 resulted in a loss to the New York Mets the year prior.
Ahead of the winner-take-all scenario, Bellinger voiced confidence in the Dodgers and starter Walker Buehler, as seen on SportsNet LA:
“It would’ve been great to finish it off here but we’ve got Buehler going, so we’re at home with Buehler going. I like our chances but we’ve got to go out and play.”
While Buehler was stellar in his Game 1 outing — holding the Nationals to just one hit and collecting eight strikeouts over six shutout innings — he’ll be opposed by Stephen Strasburg.
The Nationals’ righty was equally impressive in Game 2, as he recorded 10 strikeouts and allowed one run in six innings. Bellinger went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in the Dodgers’ 4-2 loss that tied the NLDS at one game apiece.
He’d gotten off to another slow start this postseason but seems to have emerged from that rut. It started with a leadoff single off Patrick Corbin and continued when Bellinger doubled in his second at-bat of the Dodgers’ record-setting inning. He followed it with a modest 1-for-4 showing in Game 4 but continued to make solid contact and have quality at-bats.
Although the end result was a loss to Max Scherzer and the Nationals, if Bellinger and the Dodgers are able to replicate their disciplined approach, it should bode well in avoiding another scenario where they looked overmatched against Strasburg.